There’s a new game in town – Disney Villainous and we have now played two games, and are loving it! Today I’m sharing my thoughts as well as a brief review. Our dog Bandit (pictured below) was a BIG fan of us sitting still for hours playing!
When it comes to traveling to Disney World- it tends to be one big splurge. Treat ‘Yo Self to all the fun, act like kids, and soak in the enjoyment of a good vacation. It’s a huge reason why we only visit every few years! That said, there are definitely areas that we can (and often do) cut corners and save money on our trips!
1. DIY Breakfast is one thing we almost always do. We bring breakfast bars, and store some milk and juice in the in-room fridge. We generally book the earliest possible lunch (usually 11/1130) so we can just have a really inexpensive start, avoid the excess calories, and save time too! You can bring things with you (such as cereal, granola bars, etc), or you can make a grocery store run (or have groceries delivered) and include some afternoon snacks too.
2. Limit the souvenirs and don’t over spend on things you won’t still want at home. As much fun as new ears, toys, and pins can be – this is an area a lot of us could cut a ton off – and still be happy! Just be selective and set budget or item # limits. Remember that you can often get items (sometimes at a good discount!) on ShopDisney.com and the Shop Disney Parks app.
3. Don’t over shop before the trip! From custom etsy T-shirts to more new things than you really need – be careful! Those dollars add up quickly. While pre-shopping for some things can save you money – proceed with caution.
4. Skip car rental and just take the bus. From the airport Disney provides you transportation that is complementary pretty much everywhere you go. We always use Disney transportation (a perk from staying on site!) from monorail to boats to buses – and it’s so nice to sit back, relax, and just let someone else drive. Not to mention the money we save not renting a car.
5. Think carefully about your extras. From character meals to tours to picking a room with a view instead of a basic view- extras add up and quick! Often they are worth it – but since they can add up to hundreds of dollars just for one princess lunch these extras can double a budget.
Finally, one of the biggest pitfalls to avoid is not running the math. For example, the Dining Plan that many consider a good value, for us would have actually cost more than what we spent in reality on food. Another example is renting a car so that you can stay farther away for less and/or leave to eat meals someplace much less expensive than Disney. From parking fees to time spent getting to and from the parks – consider all the factors.
Overall, what we do is to cut expenses and save as much as we can at home, and only visit every few years when we’ve saved up enough money to enjoy the trip we’d like to have within reason. While a stay in a suite or with all the extras would be nice – we find that a middle ground of staying in a DVC studio and enjoying just a few extras suits us just fine!
Aulani is a peaceful place, and if you couldn’t already tell: we recommend it. (hint: See all of our Aulani articles here) There is however a place that takes the tranquility of Aulani and takes it to a whole new level: the Laniwai spa. On our recent trip I was able to spend a morning here in the spa and it was every bit as peaceful, beautiful, and memorable as I remember.
You enter through a hallway where you cast a stone into this pool – a mesmerizing start to the experience. From there your guide will show you everything you need to know about getting ready, amenities available, and more.
From dining reservations to making payments on a cruise – as the main planner of the family I always have a calendar with dates, sticky notes, and reminders. But what about when the trip starts to get close? When you can really get excited? That’s when a Disney countdown calendar comes in handy!
First let’s talk DIY options – here are a few we have done:
- Countdown “chain” – make loops of cardstock, chain them together, remove a link each day until it’s time to go!
- Countdown sign – make two sets of 0-9 numbers and “count down” moving the day down each new day. Not a favorite but it works
- Printed calendar to hang on wall (DIY tutorial for this option in this post!)
- Simply marking the important countdown dates in a planner/family calender
Our favorite is a colorful and visual “countdown” calendar. You can use a ruler to draw your own, print a template, or what we did was to print 5 rows x 7 column EXCEL sheets to create approximately 95 days of counting down fun. This was by far the fastest easiest option to give us a blank template to play with.
note: we did make one whooooops (see above: there is only 1 square for 11 & 12…) but we left it. These things work out!
Once printed the “how-to” steps go like so:
- Tape together the sheets (if multiple used) so the squares line up.
- Add the numbers for countdown (hand drawn, stickers, stamps, etc)
- Add stickers and decorative elements
- Hang it up, and count it down!
We created a short YouTube video to share this process as well.
What we like about this is that it is fun, easy, and quick as well! It also lets us use up random crafty stickers and have a visual reminder of the vacation we are excited for.
You might notice this countdown is to Europe – we’re very excited to be in the final months before our trip to Disneyland Paris and a Disney Cruise! We have a lot of videos and blog posts planned about that trip including packing, character meals, and everything in between.
For this project one more thing I will note: If you want you can also include “Disney themed days” or plans. For example 101 Dalmatians, or watching Frozen 32 days (aka freezing!) prior. 7 days to go Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs… you get the idea!
If you have your own countdown traditions or ideas we would love to hear them. Share here!